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Popular Piety in Late Medieval EnglandThe Diocese of Salisbury 1250-1550$
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Andrew D. Brown

Print publication date: 1995

Print ISBN-13: 9780198205210

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198205210.001.0001

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Guilds of Mayors and Burgesses

Guilds of Mayors and Burgesses

(p.159) 7 Guilds of Mayors and Burgesses
Popular Piety in Late Medieval England

Andrew D. Brown

Oxford University Press

The corporate solidarity felt among a town's elite could be expressed in a number of ways. Freedom from tolls, the right to appoint officials, and the ability to hold courts became features that were increasingly known as borough privileges. Another right was to be able to form a guild merchant which could represent the whole town; the guild would include all the enfranchised burgesses, who had often earned membership through apprenticeship to a particular craft. By the fifteenth century, the term ‘guild merchant’ had generally lapsed: town government was usually run by common councils, and burgesses gathered collectively as social and religious guilds like those of Malmesbury, even if few towns laid claim to such illustrious pedigrees. This chapter examines the function of these guilds, particularly within the context of civic unity, and how they fitted into the structure of devotional life, civic, parochial, and guild.

Keywords:   guilds, burgesses, elite, guild merchant, civic unity, devotional life

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